You may have heard that magnesium can be used to treat severe forms of asthma with success and might even be considering whether to try taking magnesium supplements yourself--either along with, or instead of, your regular treatment regime in an effort to better keep your breathing problems in check.

Magnesium and Asthma: Best Left to the Experts

Actually, the experts say no, you shouldn't try preventing or treating your asthma symptoms on your own by taking any type of magnesium at home. This form of medication is best left to the professionals to administer in severe cases of asthma that are difficult to control.

An Emergency Treatment Approach

To better understand the role that magnesium plays in treating asthma and to see how and when it should be used, take a closer look at the latest research about the magnesium and asthma relationship.

Researchers who recently reviewed hospital emergency department records in an effort to better understand how asthma patients present and what treatment methods are called upon to relieve serious symptoms came to some interesting conclusions.

First, it seems that most emergency departments do have magnesium sulfate available to treat patients who present with severe asthma symptoms and who don't seem to respond to other types of treatment. In such cases, administering the magnesium sulfate intravenously can be a very effective step to help patients in an acute situation to stabilize quickly. Further, using intravenous magnesium sulfate is easy to administer, is safe and is also inexpensive.

But the researchers also discovered that despite the success rate of combining magnesium and asthma today, only about a quarter of emergency departments use this technique regularly.

The Role Magnesium Plays

Further, it is known today that magnesium is essential to keep the body functioning properly on all levels and that a magnesium deficiency can lead to a number of complications, including bronchial spasms and reduced respiration. But the jury is still out on whether most asthmatics are naturally lacking in magnesium. It also not known whether asthma patients could benefit from taking regular supplements to prevent an attack. This fact hasn't been established yet, in large part because this is a difficult area to measure effectively.

The Bottom Line

So you may wonder how these findings can apply to your specific situation. The best advice most doctors offer is to steer clear of using magnesium preventatively and instead use your regular asthma treatment plan as your doctor has directed.

However, in the case that you end up in the emergency department suffering from a severe asthma attack, you should know that you could end up being given a treatment of magnesium sulfate intravenously. When used in this way, it can work quite well and appropriately as a bronchodilator to open up the airways and help you breathe better fast.




American Academy of Pediatrics

Chest Journal

Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology